Access to Treatment and Cultural Use for People Living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA) During the COVID-19 Pandemic in the Special Region of Yogyakarta, Indonesia: An Anthropological Approach

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Muhammad Dian Saputra Taher
Atik Triratnawati


During the COVID-19 pandemic, people living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA) experienced various problems related to the continuity of treatment because lockdowns hamper their drug supplies. This study examined PLWHA’s access to treatment to maintain their health during the COVID-19 pandemic, associated with traditional medicine well-known to Javanese people in Yogyakarta. Qualitative research was conducted in 2020 with online and offline focus group discussions and offline interviews with PLWHA from two NGOs in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. People living with HIV and AIDS had problems getting their medicine on time due to the limited availability. Drugs for a 30-day use were only enough for 15 days or even 10 days, especially at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. They dealt with these drug supply delays jointly with other PLWHA borrowing drugs. To maintain their immunity, besides consuming vitamins, they also used Javanese herbal medicine they believed was effective for maintaining body fitness and immunity, and as alternative medicine besides medical drugs. The culture of Javanese people in Yogyakarta, who have long known herbal medicine contributes to shaping the PLWHA’s view, found that they will turn to herbal medicine to improve immunity.


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Muhammad Dian Saputra Taher, Department of Anthropology, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia

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